While many organisations and businesses may have a website, a successful web presence is only achieved when the Internet is viewed in the context of a broader marketing strategy.
In particular, too many organisations fail to provide the same rigour for their website that they would provide for printed materials. Just as a brochure or letterhead should be consistent with an organisation’s theme, style and colours, so should its website.
A website functions as a virtual storefront and will often be the first point of contact for prospective clients, members or volunteers. A brochure, or other printed material, will often be produced with clear aims in mind, such as recruiting volunteers or increasing sales, and a web presence should be no different.
It is therefore important that an organisation has clear objectives for its website to ensure it has a basis for measuring the success of its online presence. The target audience for the website needs to be identified and suitable content needs to be produced to relate to these visitors.
While a website’s homepage will often serve as a convergence point, clear navigation and text should assist your target audience in finding the content that is relevant to them.
While an organisation’s homepage might serve as an entrance point for someone typing in your web address from a brochure, newsletter or email link; your homepage may not necessarily be the first page that other visitors see on your website.
For example, search engines typically index an entire website meaning that visitors may receive a result that takes them to another page on your site. Likewise people respond to content that is shared across Social Media sites, like Facebook or Twitter, will often click on that link directly and thus bypass your homepage.
It is therefore critical that your website has a consistent navigation system so that these visitors can navigate through your website. Navigation should be easy to use so that people are able to locate the information they need, frustrated visitors will simply leave your site and find the content elsewhere.
While different areas of your website may have a different emphasis and perhaps even a slightly different style, the fundamentals like navigation should remain consistent.
The aims that you wish to achieve through your web presence should be reflected in the content that is available on your website. While site visitations are obviously important, the ultimate goal is to convert those visitors into action, whether that be purchasing a product, volunteering for your organisation, subscribing to a publication, or contacting for further information.
Once a visitor decides to act, it is critical that that they are able to follow this through easily and without complications. Therefore:
- if your aim is for visitors to make contact with your organisation, it is imperative that your contact details are readily available.
- If your aim is to encourage the purchasing of your products, then make sure that the path and navigation to these products is concise and seamless.
- If your aim is to encourage the purchase of a service, then online forms can be an effective method of gathering information so that you can deliver this service.
As an example, Syneka added online enrollment functionality as part of the redevelopment of North Ringwood Community House’s website.
This functionality enables visitors to choose a course and click Enrol so that this course will be selected as part of their enrolment. When the visitor is ready to finalise their details they are able to complete the form, which is sent to the House to confirm the enrolment.
This process, which simplifies the course enrolment procedure, has seen an increase of new students enrolling and undertaking courses at the community house.
Previously, course information was not available on the website and the enrolment form had to be printed and then sent to the Community House.
The new system is not only easier for prospective students, but also makes it easier to find information, since each course is listed on the site. The content management system means that staff are able to easily add and remove courses, ensuring that the site remains up-to-date.
One of the aims of the North Ringwood Community House website was to provide an easy method of online course enrolment and this has been achieved through this website.
A web presence needs to provide a consistent image for an organisation as part of a broader marketing strategy. This ensures that aims can be identified and that results can be measured and evaluated.